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In January 2019, JPMorgan Chase hosted the second annual National Savings Month. The National Savings Movement started as an effort to support employees, customers, and millennials along their journey to financial fitness. Moderated by Keosha Burns, Public Relations Executive in Banking/Mortgage, the esteemed panel included money experts Gaby Dunn, podcaster and author of Bad With Money, Kelly Hultgren of the Her Money Podcast, and Marcus Garrett, host of Paychecks and Balances and author of Debt Free or Die Trying. Here’s a quick summary of what was discussed.

About the Panelist

Gaby Dunn is a bestselling author, journalist, television writer, actress, and LGBTQ activist living in Los Angeles. Her podcast “Bad With Money” was named one of the top ten podcasts of 2016 by The New York Times. Dunn believes that our inability to speak honestly about money is our #1 barrier to understanding it, leading us to feel alone, ashamed and anxious, which in turns makes us feel even more overwhelmed by it. In Bad With Money, she reveals the legitimate, systemic reasons behind our feeling of helplessness when it comes to personal finance, demystifying the many signposts on the road to getting our financial stuff together, like how to choose an insurance plan or buy a car, sign up for a credit card or take out student loans. Follow her on Twitter @GabyDunn and Instagram @GabyRoad.

Kelly Hultgren is a journalist and podcaster based in New York City, covering personal finance and entrepreneurship. Since 2013, she’s been reporting and producing for Jean Chatzky (P&B readers fondly remember her 2017 advice), the financial editor for the NBC TODAY show. In 2018, she co-founded Her Money Media, Inc., a new personal finance brand that’s changing women’s relationships with money. You can catch her weekly on the HerMoney podcast, providing the millennial perspective in the show’s fan-favorite Mailbag segment. Follow @HerMoneyMedia for the latest updates or to subscribe to their great newsletter.

Marcus Garrett is a recovering auditor who survived the mean streets of the inner suburbs in the great state of Texas. A decade of professional experience as a Certified Internal Auditor combined with freelance writing on topics ranging from current events to love and relationships helped him develop a unique qualitative and quantitative perspective. His struggle, journey, and success with money inspired him to write Debt Free or Die Trying: How I Buried Myself in Over $30,000 in Debt and Dug My Way Out by Age 30 and join @IamRichJones each week on the Paychecks And Balances podcast to help Millennials make money, save money, and get out of debt. Follow him on Twitter @TheMarcusGarret or Instagram @TheMarcusGarrett.

Keosha Burns is the Public Relations and external communications lead for Chase Home Lending. In addition to speaking to buyers about how to get the most value out of their home, Keosha has a specific focus on building a strategy for connecting with Millennials and first-time homebuyers. Keosha has worked in banking and housing for more than 10 years and built her career in Washington, DC, acting as a spokesperson for organizations like Fannie Mae, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Financial Services Roundtable. Follow her on Instagram @KeoshaBurns.

National Savings Month

Spending – how do you track it? how do you control it?

I said budgeting sucks three years ago and my position on this has not changed. However, I do like the idea of a “spending plan,” whereby part of the plan includes “spending” money on responsible investments. Typically, for budget beginners, I recommend the more strict 50/30/20 Budget, which is the one I used to pay off $30,000 in debt. Namely, because if you’ve never had a budget, the first thing you need to learn isn’t how to budget, it’s how to be disciplined. Once you’ve gotten into the routine habit of budgeting, then you can relax the structure. I currently use an 80/20 budget.

How do you survive the ‘Doing it for the Gram’ culture?

The Gram is the new “keeping up with the Joneses (or Kardashians?).” For some, it’s easy to ignore social media. For many others, it’s not. I don’t have the answers and I suffer from FOMO as much as the next Millennial. Rather than try to resist temptation, I avoid it all together.

For example, I’ll carve out “productive hours,” like the ones I’m using to write this post for instance. For a ‘reward,’ I’ll then log into whatever social media of my choice. At least in this way, before I get into a fall into a vortex of scrolling thru videos and memes, I’ve gotten the important work/money stuff out of the way. Additionally, if you have a passive income stream or side hustle, you can use social media to your advantage as another income stream to make money. At least then it’s not a complete time drain without reward to your bottom line.

Where to start and how to tackle credit card and student loan debt?

For most people, where is less the problem than the when. In other words, they research and research and never get started, when getting started is more important than where you start. I wrote an entire book on getting out of debt (paychecksandbalances.com/debtfree), but you don’t have to listen to me. Here are 15 other great options, not to mention Gaby’s book, Bad With Money. The best plan is the plan that works, but sometimes you need to start searching for a plan and just get started doing the work.

How do you help your family (and friends) without also finding yourself in a crisis?

I liked Keosha’s example here: Put Your Oxygen Mask on First. Just like the advice you on an airplane, before trying to save anyone else make sure you can breath first. Frankly, people ask me for money all the time. If I can help, I do. If I can’t, I’m equally honest when I cannot. I have money, but I’m not rich or made of money. If people become repeat customers, I start to ask myself do they need help better managing their own money or do they view me as a personal ATM?

I get that everyone’s on their own journey, so sometimes they’re not ready to make the next step in their personal finance journey. This is a judgment-free zone at all times. But, I shouldn’t drown in an effort to help you swim when swimming lessons are readily available to all of us. I like former guest Patrice Washington’s valuable insight on this topic. She advises you learn, “the power of saying ‘no,’ because what good is money in the hands of a fool?”

What is the first step to getting comfortable with the idea of becoming an investor?

The first step is you don’t have to be comfortable to invest. Investing is an emotional journey. If you’re able to invest completely devoid of emotion, you’re better than me (and most people). The only difference is I don’t allow my emotions to override my logic.

Investing is by far the best way to increase your money over time, build wealth, and secure financial independence. For ease, I personally automate all my investments and use a target date fund. This is a personal decision, but it is the best investment decision for me because I don’t want to sit around worrying about money all the time when I could be living my life. Until there is a better way, I’m going to be an investor because the other choice is to remain broke. Thanks, but no thanks.

What is your money motto?

“Money can’t buy happiness but neither can poverty.” – Leo Rosten

What Keeps Working Professional Millennials Up at Night?

Before closing, we opened the floor to Q&A. I also asked Twitter what information they wished their company shared with them as new hires that they had to learn on their own. Here are some examples of what individuals want to know about their employers, careers, and investment options.

What’s your opinion on the state of personal finance education across the country? It sucks, because it is non-existent. It’s getting better, and I hold out hope for the future of personal finance education in America.

What are your favorite tools? As Senior Millennials, we’ve used a lot of personal finance tools over the years. Here’s a list of our current favorites.

Should coworkers share their salaries with their peers? I’m all for wage transparency and salary negotiation, but I think it’s unfair to put this burden on the employees. Money is a sensitive topic for most individuals, and generally speaking, it’s still culturally taboo to openly discuss salary in America, unless you’re like these Rockstar men and women. While I believe we are and should move in this direction, for now I recommend the following websites and apps to determine if you are paid fairly:

  • GlassDoor.com – Search millions of jobs and get the inside scoop on companies with employee reviews, personalized salary tools, and more
  • Comparably.com – Find your ideal company and compensation by making work transparent and rewarding.
  • SmartAsset.com – Use SmartAsset’s paycheck calculator to calculate your take-home pay per paycheck for both salary and hourly jobs after taking into account federal, state, and local taxes.
  • PaycheckCity.com – for paycheck calculators, withholding calculators, tax calculators, payroll information and more.
  • ADP’s Paycheck Calculators – Payroll calculators, 401k calculators, tax calculators, and other essential business tools to help calculate personal and business investments.

If you’re next job will include relocation, don’t forget to read our post on the best tools to use for salary and cost-of-living adjustments.

What’s the next step when you’re already a naturally good saver? First, congratulations! It sounds like you’re ready to graduate to meeting with a Certified Financial Planner. Check out our #AskACFP series for tips, tricks, and the best websites to find a fee only CFP.

From Twitter

The tax advantages for each account type, whether paying off debt or saving is more advantageous and compound interest?

We’ll have a full CPA SME/tax series coming soon to address the first part of your question (Join our newsletter to state up-to-date on the latest.) Regarding which debts to tackle first, it’s a personal decision, but we typically recommend credit card debt before school loans (because of the higher interest rates). For retirement, if you follow the 50/30/20 Budget or 80/20 Budget, the 20% already accounts for various payment types as follows: 10% for retirement; 5% for emergencies and 5% for debt. Remember, these are just guidelines and you should tailor a plan that works best for you.

The value of low fee index funds, the beauty of compound interest over time, and “The Rule of 72”?

For the impact and beauty of compound interest over time, you can read our post on how to automate your way to $1 million, or Business Insider’s, The Investment Chart Every 25 Year Old Should See produced by JPMorgan in 2014 (it’s a small world after all).

The Rule of 72:

The “Rule of 72” is a simplified way to determine how long an investment will take to double, given a fixed annual rate of interest. By dividing 72 by the annual rate of return, investors can get a rough estimate of how many years it will take for the initial investment to duplicate itself. – Investopedia.com

Instead of someone talking at me on finances I would appreciate someone listening to me about what I want to do/ where I want to go.

This is an excellent point. Not every employee is only interested in money and personal finance. This is why we’re such huge advocates for tailored mentorship. JP Morgan has lifted the bar with this unique opportunity for their employees.

Thank You

A special thanks to Keosha Burns for extending an invite to the panel and to everyone who attended. Despite having already been in the workforce for almost five years, I didn’t learn about my own 401k investment opportunities until I was 27 after I was finally encouraged to meet with a company-sponsored financial advisor (To be fair, it was a great discussion and I learned a lot; starting my first 401k contributions that day).

Most of what I’ve learned about personal finance has been taught thru error, trials, and tribulations or from reading the top money and investment books recommended by the experts on my own. There should be a better way. I hope more employers follow the lead set by Chase’s National Savings Month and prioritize leadership in these much-needed discussions for the benefit of their employees and the community. We’re happy to consult on the development of similar personal finance engagements. Contact us here.

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